Christmas Cards, Winter Solstice & Depression

Stan Kollarik
December 21, 2023

As daylight shortens, we find that individuals dealing with depressive symptoms tend to step away from all the festivity associated with the last leg of the year. As underscored by a recent study published in the Cogent Psychology Journal, the absence of a Christmas card from those who traditionally exchanged them in the past offers insight into whether they are poised for a 'merry' or 'blue' Christmas. The authors link this change in behaviour to growing feelings of helplessness, sadness and irritability as the holiday season approaches. Today, as nature reflects the emotional darkness of depression, we want to acknowledge the profound impact this season can have on mental health.

Yet, the winter solstice is more than just a symbol of darkness; it marks a transformative juncture. With Christmas just around the corner, the days now lengthen, promising the return of light and warmth. This pivotal moment challenges us to embody this juncture, becoming beacons of hope and change. Reach out, check in, and guide others toward brighter tomorrows.  

The authors of the study end their article by reflecting on the use of social prescribing, a health and social care initiative with evident benefits for individuals and communities. For those experiencing depression, integrating a social prescribing initiative around the tradition of sending Christmas cards could be seamlessly incorporated into art therapy programmes, which they claim is feasible enough to run in primary care settings.

In transitioning from the year's darkest day to the shimmering lights of Christmas, let's keep a watchful eye for those who might be going through a tough time. It's an opportunity to offer kindness, understanding, and perhaps a chance to connect them with supportive community resources.  

Consider the below organisations:

NHS

Mind

Samaritans  

Papyrus

C.A.L.L.

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